Wánosts’a7, Woman Who Walks in Peace Among Her People, is the name given to Lorna Williams. It was her grandmother’s name. Lorna was given her name at the age of seventeen and she says it has guided her throughout her life. The name helped her manage her emotions and make her work positive rather than negative. Residential school had taken away Lorna’s ability to communicate in any language. Her family and elders surrounded her with love and support when she returned home. She found her voice. She found her language.
Lorna is Lil’wat of the St’at’yem’c First Nation at Mount Currie in British Columbia. She has been involved in community activities for years, including taking control of the Mount Currie Community School. She developed the first curriculum for teaching her language and she created a teacher training program for teachers to implement the curriculum. She worked collaboratively to develop an orthography for the language and land-based language programs and culture camps. Her work is de-colonizing. Her work is brilliant.
Visionary work does not go unnoticed. Lorna has supported other communities to develop their language revitalization programs. She developed the first undergraduate and graduate degrees in language revitalization in the context of indigenous learners. Lorna used concepts and terms from her language to design courses called Learning and Teaching in an Indigenous World. Her courses inspired the Principles of Learning used in the Ministry of Education. Through keynotes, podcasts, films, panels and classes, Lorna is reaching the world. She is supporting a scholar in his work with the hill tribes of Bangladesh. She organized a UNESCO world gathering of indigenous people to address the topic of respectful value and inclusion of indigenous knowledge.
Lorna has a message for young people. “You are never alone. If you need help, ask. The ancestors and creator are listening.” Lorna’s life gives witness to this truth.